tm27

 

A few years ago when it went viral on Youtube skeptics doubted the Train Market was real, thousands opined it was some sort of sham to fool the public.  The skeptics must have never visited Thailand.  The Train Market at Maeklong Station is indeed real, a thriving street market laid on top of railroad tracks which are stripped back, or ‘rolled up’ seven times a day (starting at 0840 and continuing to 1740) as the train rolls into Maeklong Station to drop its passengers, take on new passengers, and heads back the way it came.  You see, Maeklong Station ends just meters from the Mae Klong tributary.  It can’t go any further, so the train is configured to be driven in both directions.  It just heads back the way it came.

Many travel there by train or other public transportation, but I traveled there by private car and the GPS coordinates are N 13.407676  E 99.998078

 

 

Parking is difficult to find, but if you head towards the ‘river end’ of Maeklong station you’ll find some parking right alongside the river.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F8  1/200th  24mm  ISO 100

 Parking is difficult to find, but if you head towards the ‘river end’ of Maeklong station you’ll find some parking right alongside the river.

 

 

The river itself is worthy of your time from a photographic standpoint.  After parking, spend a few minutes looking over the river.  Weathered wooden docks and old style boats lend themselves nicely to vintage post processing.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F8  1/250th  42mm  ISO 100

 The river itself is worthy of your time from a photographic standpoint.  After parking, spend a few minutes looking over the river.  Weathered wooden docks and old style boats lend themselves nicely to vintage post processing.

 

 

Across the river you’ll see this mosque with elaborate docks.  Thai fishing boats parked alongside provide interesting contrast

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F8  1/320th  46mm  ISO 100

 Across the river you’ll see this mosque with elaborate docks.  Thai fishing boats parked alongside provide interesting contrast.

 

 

While the market is busy and bustling, the streets adjacent to the market are relatively slower paced.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F8  1/160th  70mm  ISO 100

While the market is busy and bustling, the streets adjacent to the market are relatively slower paced.

 

 

Color is the order of the day.  Everywhere vibrant colors are evident in the food, products, and local decorations.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F4.5  1/25th  34mm  ISO 100

Color is the order of the day.  Everywhere vibrant colors are evident in the food, products, and local decorations .

 

 

This is the end of the line. The tracks lead right up to the red barrier and the track marker to the left gives the position.  A couple sits on the edge of the klong in quiet conversation.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F4.5  1/320th  40mm  ISO 100

This is the end of the line. The tracks lead right up to the red barrier and the track marker to the left gives the position.  A couple sits on the edge of the klong in quiet conversation.

 

 

This is the entrance to the MaeKlong Station from the klong side looking out towards where the market begins.  As you can see, it’s an active railroad station and not set up as a tourist draw like many think.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F9  1/40th  70mm  ISO 100

This is the entrance to the MaeKlong Station from the klong side looking out towards where the market begins.  As you can see, it’s an active railroad station and not set up as a tourist draw like many think.

 

This is from the market end of the station looking towards the klong end.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM @F5.6  1/40th  70mm  ISO 100

 This is from the market end of the station looking towards the klong end.

 

 

As you enter the market you immediately notice the very low awnings which forced me to duck my head almost the entire way through.  The tracks are visible as the man walks between them, with all types of vegetables and goods along the tracks.  Not much room to navigate and/or get out of someone’s way.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.2  1/15th  ISO 100 

As you enter the market you immediately notice the very low awnings which forced me to duck my head almost the entire way through.  The tracks are visible as the man walks between them, with all types of vegetables and goods along the tracks.  Not much room to navigate and/or get out of someone’s way. 

 

 

The further in you go, the darker it gets.  The dim light presents a challenge from a photographic standpoint, as does the dense environment.  My 20mm F1.8 Sigma lens turned out to be perfect for this environment, though it does tend to make the area seem larger than it really is.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.2  1/60th  ISO 100

The further in you go, the darker it gets.  The dim light presents a challenge from a photographic standpoint, as does the dense environment.  My 20mm F1.8 Sigma lens turned out to be perfect for this environment, though it does tend to make the area seem larger than it really is.  

 

 

You’ll immediately notice most of the interesting photo opportunities are at ground to waist level.  If you have an articulating LCD you’ll have a distinct advantage when framing your compositions.  If not, I hope you’ve developed a decent “from the hip” technique because that’s what I had to use for most every capture.  No one is willing to wait for you to take a photo, they’ll push you right out of the way, so make your settings before you get to the scene, and then briefly stop just long enough to shoot from the hip.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.2  1/160th  ISO 100

You’ll immediately notice most of the interesting photo opportunities are at ground to waist level.  If you have an articulating LCD you’ll have a distinct advantage when framing your compositions.  If not, I hope you’ve developed a decent “from the hip” technique because that’s what I had to use for most every capture.  No one is willing to wait for you to take a photo, they’ll push you right out of the way, so make your settings before you get to the scene, and then briefly stop just long enough to shoot from the hip.

 

 

Raw meats are available in the market, none of it on ice and most of it is pork.  The lady will toss what you want on the scale, drop it in a plastic bag, and now the risk is yours.  Even on this relatively cool winter day the temps at this meat stand exceeded 35-36c

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.2  1/80th  ISO 100

Raw meats are available in the market, none of it on ice and most of it is pork.  The lady will toss what you want on the scale, drop it in a plastic bag, and now the risk is yours.  Even on this relatively cool winter day the temps at this meat stand exceeded 35-36c.

 

 

Most everyone here is Thai, thankfully it’s not yet a top tourist attraction.  You’re still someone to watch.  We saw 4-5 other westerners, all there to photograph the train coming through.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/320th  ISO 100

Most everyone here is Thai, thankfully it’s not yet a top tourist attraction.  You’re still someone to watch.  We saw 4-5 other westerners, all there to photograph the train coming through.

 

 

You can help but love the children.  They try so hard to get your attention and impress you.  I’m not sure what this young boy was selling, but he was all smiles.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/125th  ISO 100

You can help but love the children.  They try so hard to get your attention and impress you.  I’m not sure what this young boy was selling, but he was all smiles.

 

 

As is most Thai markets, most of the food processing is done onsite.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/60th  ISO 100

As is most Thai markets, most of the food processing is done onsite. 

 

 

Being close to the fishing boats there was a lot of fish for sale.  This lady took pride in having her fish all laid out nice and neat in a uniform manner.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/100th  ISO 100

Being close to the fishing boats there was a lot of fish for sale.  This lady took pride in having her fish all laid out nice and neat in a uniform manner.

 

 

Small alley’s provide access from the adjacent streets where you can find an easy exit or quick access.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F5.6  1/20th  ISO 100

 Small alley’s provide access from the adjacent streets where you can find an easy exit or quick access

 

 

No Thai street market would be complete without a chili stand.  Chilies of all types, sizes, and colors are available

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/30th  ISO 100

No Thai street market would be complete without a chili stand.  Chilies of all types, sizes, and colors are available.

 

And where you have chilies, you’ll find chili paste and other processed chilies.  The air is so thick with chili powder and fragrance I could feel my throat tightening and threatening to cut off my air supply.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/160th  ISO 100

And where you have chilies, you’ll find chili paste and other processed chilies.  The air is so thick with chili powder and fragrance I could feel my throat tightening and threatening to cut off my air supply.

 

 

Some fish resellers appear to specialize.  His specialty is big fish.  His table is clean with a mirror like finish.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/80th  ISO 100

Some fish resellers appear to specialize.  His specialty is big fish.  His table is clean with a mirror like finish.

 

 

Here you can get a feeling for how low the awnings are, and how close to the tracks the products are located.  See the few awnings going up?  They can hear the train in the distance, it’s almost here.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/640th  ISO 100

Here you can get a feeling for how low the awnings are, and how close to the tracks the products are located.  See the few awnings going up?  They can hear the train in the distance, it’s almost here.

 

 

You’ll meet fellow photographers along the way.  We stopped and chatted a few minutes with this guy and his wife who came here just to photograph the train coming through.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/320th  ISO 100

You’ll meet fellow photographers along the way.  We stopped and chatted a few minutes with this guy and his wife who came here just to photograph the train coming through the market.  

 

 

With the train almost here awnings are being pulled in and the merchants start warning you to find a hole off the tracks.  They are genuinely concerned for your safety and do their best to warn and protect you.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/400th  ISO 100

With the train almost here awnings are being pulled in and the merchants start warning you to find a hole off the tracks.  They are genuinely concerned for your safety and do their best to warn and protect you.

 

 

These people took refuge in the back of a shop.  I’m standing on the track and they’re laughing at me, trying to warn me to get off the track.  A train is coming!

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/25th  ISO 100

These people took refuge in the back of a shop.  I’m standing on the track and they’re laughing at me, trying to warn me to get off the track.  A train is coming!

 

 

Their eyes are glued to the track, they don’t want to miss the train.  They can hear it coming.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/30th  ISO 100

Their eyes are glued to the track, they don’t want to miss the train.  They can hear it coming.  

 

 

This is my first glimpse.  It’s difficult to take pictures when they’re almost tackling you to take you inside to a safe location.  NO NO I argue, I want to take pictures.  An understanding shop owner understands and lifts my considerable bulk to a safe location keeping one arm around me, and another arm around a support in his shop.  He leans me out to get the pictures I desire and at the last moment he pulls me in to safety. Talk about trusting your fellow man!

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/1250th  ISO 100

This is my first glimpse.  It’s difficult to take pictures when they’re almost tackling you to take you inside to a safe location.   NO NO I argue, I want to take pictures.   An understanding shop owner understands and lifts my considerable bulk to a safe location keeping one arm around me, and another arm around a support in his shop.  He leans me out to get the pictures I desire and at the last moment he pulls me in to safety.  Talk about trusting your fellow man!  

 

 

Remember, this is a 20mm lens which means this train is less than 1.5 meters from me as I get my last capture.  Notice the small girl taking pictures of the people taking pictures..

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/1250th  ISO 100

Remember, this is a 20mm lens which means this train is less than 1.5 meters from me as I get my last capture.  Notice the small girl taking pictures of the people taking pictures..  

 

 

In moments the train is rushing past and the Thai shop owner has a firm grip on me from behind.  He leans me out as far as I can go and I slip my camera between the shops and the train, once again “shooting from the hip” to get my captures.  Notice the small boy looking at me?  He probably thinks all farangs are crazy.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/400th  ISO 100

In moments the train is rushing past and the Thai shop owner has a firm grip on me from behind.   He leans me out as far as I can go and I slip my camera between the shops and the train, once again “shooting from the hip” to get my captures.   Notice the small boy looking at me?  He probably thinks all farangs are crazy.

 

 

I’m still doing my best to make interesting captures as the passengers look on.  Notice there’s not much room.  Also, notice the small bowls on the ground which the train is passing over.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/640th  ISO 100

I’m still doing my best to make interesting captures as the passengers look on.   Notice there’s not much room.   Also, notice the small bowls on the ground which the train is passing over.

 

 

It’s almost a content to see who can put their awnings back in place mere seconds after the train goes by.  I’m still being held from certain death by my Thai host who I can now hear laughing as the sound from the engine disappears down the track.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/2000th  ISO 100

It’s almost a contest to see who can put their awnings back in place mere seconds after the train goes by.   I’m still being held from certain death by my Thai host who I can now hear laughing as the sound from the engine disappears down the track.

 

 

This is the back end of the train, which will soon be the front end when it heads in the opposite direction.  See the other photographer capturing it going by?

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/500th  ISO 100

This is the back end of the train, which will soon be the front end when it heads in the opposite direction.   See the other photographer capturing it going by?

 

 

Less than 3 seconds after going by the awnings are going back in place and business continues.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 EX DG  @F2.8  1/1250th  ISO 100

Less than 3 seconds after going by the awnings are going back in place and products back on the track and business continues.

 

 

In less than a minute it’s business as usual!

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM @F5.6  1/40th  ISO 400

In less than a minute it’s business as usual!  

I really enjoyed this short outing.  Samut Songkram is less than 90 minutes outside of Bangkok traffic permitting, and the train station is easy to find.  Just feed the coordinates I provided above into your GPS and let it direct you to the parking area.

I’m usually not really fond of Thai street markets, after all they’re a common sight anywhere in Thailand.  But how many have a big locomotive coming right down through the center of it seven times a day?  Fun!